Beauty brand Lush has recently been in the news with its pop-up shops & shampoo parlours at some of the UK’s largest music festivals, notably WOMAD & Bluedot. Never a brand to stand still, this is an innovative move that is based around some very sensible strategies, and a realisation that being a successful retailer can no longer be a static exercise.

The Lush demographic, caring for yourself and the world around you whilst having fun, is well represented at music festivals. And of course one thing in short supply at these events is hygiene, toiletries and in particular a good hair wash. The pop-up offer a range of personal shampoos and blow-dries, as well as selling toothpaste, soap and other festival essentials.

So what a perfect place, and concept, to bring the Lush brand and receptive customers together. Satisfying emotional brand comfort as well as some practical needs as well.

A great initiative. But illustrating a very serious issue for retailers today. ‘Channel’ is already becoming an obsolete word. Customers and retailers are connecting via an array of ‘Shopping touchpoints.’

These ‘shopping touchpoints’ will continue to be a fusion of traditional and new shop formats and customer ‘lifestyle locations,’ across digital and physical worlds.

Retailers themselves are no longer the ones to decide which channels to offer the customer. It is increasingly the customer who dictates where and when, and how, they wish to connect with their ‘essential retailers.’

‘Retail location planning’ a standard discipline of physical retailers to define the best places to locate physical shops is being supplemented and overtaken by the new discipline of ‘Customer location planning.’

‘Customer Location planning’ is be the study of the distribution of retail touchpoints to maximise the transient movements and location patterns of the customer.

The shift in retailer mentality & functions must move from one of planting static physical shops to one of planning flexible mobile interfaces.

Retailers must move from waiting for the customer to enter their shop, to exploiting places to enter the customer’s life. It is the shift from destination shop, to ‘personal destination shop.’ It is a subtle but profoundly significant change. A move to offline, online & everything in-between.

Knowing your customer is of course important to your marketing and communication. It is now also critical to simply finding where they are, both digitally and physically.

The haystack is very big and diverse for your needles.

You need to know if your customer is socially active online? They could be on a digital platform. You need to know if they are interested in sustainability? They could be on a campaign site.

If they are more active in the physical world you need to know where they are. They could be at a leisure or entertainment venue, or standing in a field, in a country pub. The retailer needs to be there too.

Being proactive and ‘going shopping with your customer,’ wherever and whenever they want you, is the only solution for retailers today. The only way to achieve this is by being customer focused & data centric.

Clean data in a dirty world!